Can a more power efficient mobile processor really extend battery life that much? Even if a next-generation processor like Tegra 3 consumes 61% less power than its predecessor, we know by now that the major source of power consumption in any mobile device is the display technology.

Yesterday at the UBS Global Technology and Services Conference, NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang detailed a new technology in Tegra 3 that can actually reduce backlight power by 40%. That translates into longer batter life, like 14 hours of video playback on an Android tablet.

The technology is called DIDIM and Jen-Hsun described how it works. “It’s the ability to per pixel, per frame, per scene to modulate the backlight so quickly that we over a long period of time, reduce the amount of backlight intensity and backlight energy by nearly half. We save as much power in the backlight without changing the visual fidelity at all to save, essentially, the entire power used by our chip.” NVIDIA says your eyes see the same color temperature, so you can’t tell the difference.

In full active mode, the Tegra 3 processor consumes 1-2 watts. A typical display consumes 3-6 watts depending on the brightness, so DIDIM technology actually allows a device to save more power than the Tegra 3 processor consumes.

Overall, we are glad to see NVIDIA continue to focus on improving the battery life of mobile devices. This new DIDIM technology in addition to the stealth 5th-core should offer some of the best battery life we have seen on any Android devices to date. We were never told about DIDIM in any of our Tegra 3 briefings, so I wonder what other surprises NVIDIA has packed inside their quad-core processor.

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